He who controls the Spice, controls the universe

“The Spice must flow.” – Baron Harkonnen

I wrote an earlier post that commented that I don’t believe in ‘super foods’ rather I  believe that we should focus on the vast majority of the foods we eat being healthy and in that sense they are super. The reason I make this differentiation is that sometimes people look to super foods to fix their issues that they have from not following a healthy diet and or not exercising. To me, it’s kind of like one of those super new leak fixers you see advertised on TV that when using this product you no longer have to pay a plumber to come to your house to fix the leak, just slap this amazing leak fixer for $29.99 on and your leak is forever fixed! If you have ever used one of these you know it didn’t work and you had to then pay a plumber to come out and fix the leak and so much for that super fix. Same with food. People look to Turmeric to prevent cancer, they look to Quinoa to get the super protein they need, they look to probiotics in their yogurt to have a healthy gut all while still consuming foods that cause cancer, the wrong type of protein and cause gut issues. If you aren’t addressing the main problem than these ‘super foods’ more than likely aren’t going to help you.

What

Having said all that I want to write a few words on a spice that until recently, I thought there was only one type. If you have addressed your diet and are eating healthy let’s look at cinnamon and what it can do for you both for your health and other areas too.

Who doesn’t like the taste of cinnamon; on oatmeal, on toast with Agave or honey, some people even put it in their coffee.

Native to Ceylon, Sri Lanka, cinnamon dates back in Chinese writings to 2800 B.C. Its botanical name is a derivative of Hebraic and Arabic term meaning fragrant spice plant, amomon. Many years ago 350 grams of cinnamon could be exchanged for over 5 kg of silver, about fifteen times the value of silver per weight. Cinnamon used to be used to preserver meat, to treat coughing and sore throats.

Why

Today, cinnamon is used mainly as a spice added to enhance foods. But, lets look at some benefits, and also some not so good things about cinnamon.

      • It’s an antioxidant: this protects your body from damage done by free radicals. Free radicals are toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that can cause significant damage to cells and tissues in a process called oxidative stress. Alcohol, cooked and processed meats, oil that becomes oxidized during storage are examples of how free radicals can form in your body. Cinnamon is so high in antioxidants it outranks all other foods even garlic and oregano.
      • Anti-inflammatory: Inflammation is good in that it helps to repair the body from damage and also helps in fighting infection but too much inflammation can cause arthritis, and also some cancers. Studies have shown that cinnamon has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
      • Heart benefits: Cinnamon has shown to reduce the LDC cholesterol (the one you want low) while not affecting the good HDL cholesterol. In animal studies cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
      • Improves insulin sensitivity: This is really important if you are active and looking for ways to improve performance. Insulin is key in how your body processes glucose to fuel your body for all things including exercise. This is why Tabata is so useful for improving performance because one of the benefits is it increases insulin sensitivity. Looking for a performance boost? Save your money on buying expensive supplements and instead add some cinnamon to your food.

The right type

Now comes a very important part. I think most people aren’t aware of this as I have never heard of this from anyone: there is not just one type of cinnamon. As mentioned earlier, cinnamon came from Ceylon, Sri Lanka. The cinnamon you are probably using did not. It’s a cheaper version mainly found in grocery stores and it’s Cassia cinnamon, not Ceylon cinnamon. Is there a difference? Yes both in taste and what it contains.

While Cassia cinnamon is safe to eat, too much can lead to health issues due to a compound in it called coumarin. Eating too much coumarin may harm your liver and increase the risk of cancer. Also, eating too much Cassia cinnamon has been linked to many other side affects such as mouth sores, low blood sugar and may negatively interact with other medications.

A teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon contains approx. 5mg  of coumarin while Ceylon cinnamon contains only trace amounts. The recommended daily coumarin limit is approximately 0.05 mg/pound (0.1 mg/kg) of body weight, or 5 mg per day for a 130-pound (60-kg) person. This means that just one to one and a half teaspoons of Cassia cinnamon could put you over the daily limit.

Lastly, Ceylon cinnamon, in my opinion tastes a little subtler and sweeter than Cassia cinnamon. To me, I don’t find it as harsh if you happen to add a little too much to the foods you are eating.

Lastly

If you aren’t eating cinnamon, try it. Get some Ceylon cinnamon, the good stuff and add it to your shake, soup, your chili or whatever else you want to add it to. If not for the benefits, do it for the taste because it tastes awesome.

Yours in health,

Darryl

failing to plan is planning to fail

I’ve written posts on this topic in the sense of the individual things that can be done to keep on track to a goal be it your goal to lose weight, increase strength or flexibility, run a marathon, or any health related goal you may have. Keeping journals, measuring the food you eat, etc. Without a plan, how do you know if you will end up where you are trying your best to get to?

And it can be broken down into 2 parts, I think: the planning that is needed to get you there ready to rock, and the planning for the actual event itself.

Before

Don’t underestimate preperation

If it’s a sanctioned event such as a marathon, 10k run or something similar where these things happen all the time, all around the world than there should be a wealth of information available to help you plan to get ready for this event. Blogs, podcasts are plentiful for these events with lots of info on what you need to do to be successful and also information geared towards what can be done to complete the event in your desired duration.

If what your event is not a standard event such as above, try to find something similar. If you are participating in an event that is 5 hours long and thus classified as an endurance event than try to find something similar. You could probably equate this to a marathon, or maybe even  a triathlon. Use training information for these events to help with your planning.

The lead up

I recently wrote a post on this. Taking it easy for the week or two weeks before your event. Seems contradictory that you’ve worked so hard to get ready for your event that you would take it easy leading up to the event. How could that help you out? With hard training comes many demands on the body. Muscles breaking down, less time for the body to recover due to lack of rest/sleep, running an oxygen deficit.

EPOC. Do you know the word? I sometimes make the mistake of forgetting that something I understand doesn’t mean that others understand it. Let’s take EPOC as an example, Excess Post exercise Oxygen Consumption. In simple terms, when your exercise routine consists of high intense interval training you put your body in a state of oxygen deficit. Hard to believe when we breathe in oxygen all the time. If fact, this oxygen deficit can last up to 30 hours! This is 30 hours of time that you will not perform at your best. You will perform fine, but not at your best, and you want to be your best, you want kill this event and have that feeling that you killed it. Nothing like a big confidence booster knowing you did your best and your best is the best you’ve ever been.

So I guess my point is you need to take it easy that last week or two so you are in optimal condition to do this. This doesn’t mean you stop everything, it means working at a moderate pace so you are still moving and still active but the intensity is less, about 60% of what you are used to. Also since you will be burning less calories due to the lesser work load, you shouldn’t worry about running a calorie deficit. You might even see some gains in muscle size and strength because of this. And if you aren’t sure you are eating enough, consume more food as long as it’s not processed.

And don’t worry. Don’t worry about working less than you have been. You’ve put in the hard work the last number of months and now is the time to slow down and let the body recover so it’s 100% ready.

The day

The fire inside

Well, actually I’ll start on the day before. Try to do what you normally do. What I mean is don’t just sit around the house. Try to keep moving, eat well and if the opportunity is there, do what it is you are planning to do the next day. This keeps the body moving, lubricated, prevents injury due to lack of movement, keeps the mind busy and will also help you settle down that night and get a good night’s sleep. Consume whole foods that are plant based, drink plenty of water so you have your fuel tank full and are also fully hydrated. Pack up the gear you need for tomorrow instead of doing this in the morning. Double check that you have everything you need packed. And err on the side of caution. Better to have too many gels, electrolytes, and food then coming up short. Now is the time to make sure everything is ready to go, not in the morning where if you can’t find something this will bring on undue stress and is not a good way to start the day of your event.

When the morning comes, be sure to eat a quality breakfast. Steel cut oats with berries on top is a really good choice. The oats and berries will give you the carbs and the fiber will also slow down digestion and ensure you have the fuel you need. Try not to load up on protein as you need carbs to fuel you. Protein will come later, after the event to help rebuild the damage that has been done.

While you are waiting to leave for your event, as your breakfast digests, visualize yourself completing this event as you want to complete it. In your mind picture yourself being the best ever, no mistakes, perfection, poetry in motion. This might be the hardest thing to do for you. We all have doubts about ourselves and often times this is the voice we listen to in our head. We push out the voice that says you did well, the voice that says you are awesome and amplify the voice that says you could have done better, you sucked at that, you were awful and don’t deserve this.

Why is it ok to tell ourselves these things but not ok to say the same things to someone else? Why is it we are so good at disrespecting ourselves? Self criticism is OK if it’s constructive but it becomes damaging when it is not based on reality but instead is driven by other reasons, reasons which are usually emotionally based and thus not constructive. Trust me on this one, I know. I struggle with this all the time and I think I always will.

And when the time comes, and you are an hour, two, three into your event keep telling yourself this: You do deserve this, You can do this, You are incredible and You will do this. Mistakes will happen but don’t dwell on them. Forget them right away. The more you pay attention to them the more you will break down the positivity you have built. Set milestones for the event be it time based or event based. As you complete each milestone, remind yourself that you are doing this, you are in it for good!

I know, it’s all bullshit, right? Woo woo bullshit. But why is it we throw out the food that was left out too long and has mold on it. Why not eat it? Because it’s poison and will make us sick, possibly even kill us. Then why do we let ourselves consume poison food for our mind? Throw that poison in the garbage and eat the positive food. As I’ve said before, the mind will quit before the body will. Keep your mind as strong as it can be.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

into the echo chamber

Your time is valuable and should not be wasted. With that, I give you myths and mistruths that for some reason have shown a great amount of longevity. It’s time for that to stop.

So with that, here we go:

  • Spot reduction of fat: Myth. It cannot be done. This is a common one mainly perpetuated by people doing ab work to get that six pack. Sorry to disappoint but doing a bunch of ab work to get rid of that fat around you belly will not make it disappear quicker. If you do a lot of ab work, along with eating a whole foods plant based diet then you will get there, but not because of the ab work alone, that’s just using up calories. The fat you eat is the fat you wear. Based on your body type the fat will deposit where it wants to, with women mainly in the hips and butt, and with guys usually the belly. That’s just the way it is. So the same goes for these area’s. You can’t target specific areas of your body with exercise to remove fat from that area. By eating correctly and exercising correctly the fat will come off and eventually will also leave those places you want it gone, eventually. But always remember, your overall health is much more important than where you might have some fat. Focus on health and well being, not just looks.
  • Fat burning zone: I haven’t heard this for a while up until a few weeks ago. The ‘fat burning zone’ was huge about 10 – 12 years ago. Is there such a thing, a fat burning zone? Yes, in the sense that when exercising at a lower heart rate, let’s say a moderate intensity, the body tends to use more fat as a preferred fuel. Not exclusively but it does use fat. The problem is that’s about it. It does not increase the amount of fat used post exercise and doesn’t really do anything to raise your resting metabolic rate. And you have to exercise for a much longer duration to burn the fat you want to. Comparing this to a high intensity interval workout where the primary fuel is glycogen the body will still not use as much fat. With a high intense interval workout the body uses both glycogen and fat for fuel but the big benefit is afterwards the body uses fat as fuel to help replenish the oxygen consumed (EPOC). Sometimes this can take up to 36 hours depending on the intensity. Also, the resting metabolic rate is raised thus consuming more calories (fat) when resting. So why was the fat burning zone so popular? It was a great way to make money. People loved to hear that they could work out in the fat burning zone with little effort and get results. It’s a good example of the echo chamber, people love to hear positive reinforcements of their bad habits. Books, videos, magazines, etc. where sold by the thousands making people a lot of money.
  • Work abs every day: Another myth. I’m not sure if this one is still popular today but there was a time where people would work their abs every day. Sit ups, leg raises, crunches. Maybe pushups is the new ‘abs every day’. If you are already aware that you need to let your muscles rest, recover after a good workout for up to 48 hours then why would abs, or chest muscles be any different? I don’t know either but people treat them differently. Just like you wouldn’t do legs every day, don’t do ab work, or pushups every day either. Work them hard one day then let them recovery over 48 hours.
  • Protein after a workout: This is still very common. People have a tough work out, maybe an hour long, or longer. Lots of sweat, lots of work. The body is exhausted. Then, they go and down a protein shake. Believe it or not you are not doing yourself any favours, in fact you are denying your body what it needs: carbs. Most of us have only about 60 minutes of fuel in the form of glucose and glycogen in our body. This is when we are in a state where we are fully fueled, the gas tank is full. Most of us aren’t even at that state when we show up to exercise, we are already running a deficit. So why is this a problem? When you have depleted your fuel, your glycogen stores, you need to replenish them. Glucose and glycogen (the stored glucose) is needed for everything your body does: the brain and other organs functioning, walking, talking, everything including digesting food. If your body doesn’t have the glucose it needs it goes to the glycogen stores and if that is empty because you have just used it all up exercising it will then metabolize muscle tissue into glucose to fulfill it’s needs. So your body is now consuming the muscle tissue you worked so hard to build. It’s awful. So what do you do? After a tough workout consume carbs. Apples, oranges, bananas, berries or anything that is whole foods and high in carbs. I like to have a shake consisting of a banana, a cup of frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, black berries are great), some unsweetened Almond milk, and some spinach. This gives me both the carbs my body needs to replenish my glucose deficit and also gives me protein the body needs to start the recovery process. An ideal ratio of carbs to protein is 4:1. Later, about 90 minutes I can then have a meal that is more protein focused to also help the body start the healing process. But, if you follow a whole foods plant based diet then you really not worry about this at all as you will be getting the correct ratio of carbs, proteins, fats and importantly fiber.
  • You need lots of protein: This is probably the largest myth out there. I’m not going to write too much as I already have an article on this. It comes down to money. The protein supplement industry is a multi billion dollar industry and it’s growing. Hard on our body especially when animal based, too much protein can damage the kidneys, can speed up the aging of cells and basically it is not needed. Your money can be used for better purposes then buying protein supplements. What the message should be is fiber. The lack of fiber in people’s diet is evident in the increase of cancers: colon cancer, prostrate cancer and other sicknesses. Fiber is used by the body to flush out the excess hormones and toxins we have in our body. Without enough fiber, the toxins and hormones stay in the blood and are not removed. We can do a lot in our lives to avoid toxins but we cannot get away from them. Eat any processed foods lately? What about the things you put on your body like shampoos, toothpaste, deodorant and so on. Driving, walking, just being outside we breathe in toxins. It’s really unavoidable. But having a diet low in fiber is not unavoidable. Increasing fiber will help the body in removing these toxins and hopefully help in preventing disease.

Finally

Those are only a few. If you are serious about your health and wellness it may make sense to challenge the things you do, to seek out more qualified information. There is a lot of information out there, a lot of ‘bro science’ which to me again is perpetuating the echo chamber. A good example is the JRE, the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Don’t get me wrong, I like Joe especially when it comes to Martial Arts as I don’t think there is a better colour commentator out there. But, when it comes to perpetuating misinformation I don’t think anyone reins greater than Joe. Too many times he has had guest on his show promoting Keto diet, Carnivore diet, low carb diet, carbs are bad, veganism unless done absolutely correctly will cause you health issues (veganism is more than just what you eat but yes, a ‘vegan’ diet should be done correctly but why is it always said veganism has to be done right where as a non vegan diet doesn’t?) His guests on his show spew out ‘facts’ from industry funded studies and no one challenges it. Thus more people end up harming their body, sometimes the effects not known until 20 years later and no one the wiser.

But I digress. Getting the results you want isn’t that hard, really. It takes a bit of work initially to find good sources with reliable, accurate information but once you do, it gets even easier. Book mark those sites and go back to see what else you can learn from them. After all, the choices you make are the choices you live with.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Oh yeah Alright

Feels good inside

For the last maybe 5 years, or maybe longer than that a new term arose, superfoods. What does that mean, superfoods. Does it make you superhuman? Probably not. Personally I think the term gets overused and also I think there is the potential for damage in that just like vitamins people will consume superfoods in place of foods they should be consuming on a daily basis.

plant based foods
Plant based foods

First and foremost everyone should be eating a whole foods plant based diet. Not sure what that is? It’s not being vegan for one thing. Veganism is a moral position that has much more to do with the foods consumed. It includes this but also reaches beyond to what you put on your body be it hygiene products, clothing, make up, etc. It can also extend to activities such as not patronizing zoo’s or circuses or other places animals are exploited for our entertainment. If you want to find out more about a whole foods plant based diet I suggest you start with reading the China Study or another option is to watch Fork over Knives.

Back to my point, consuming a whole foods plant based diet should give you all the nutrients you need.

But, if you are looking to increase certain nutrients, not replace eating well then below I’ve listed some foods you might want to add into your daily eating.

What

Chia seeds: Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, protein fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and antioxidants. Easy to use. I recommend grinding the seeds first as this is easier for your body to digest. Add a tablespoon to a smoothie or shake, to a salad, or a sauce. You can add it to almost anything.

Flaxseed: Also high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Also high in lignans (a powerful antioxidant) and fiber, can be used to improve digestive health. Just like Chia seeds, you can grind up your flax seed and use it the same way; shakes, etc.

Spirulina: Once called ‘the best food for the future‘ by the United Nations World Food Conference. Extremely digestible and contains every natural known antioxidant a healthy body could need. Rich in vitamins, reported to correct anemia, reduce radioactive damage and lower cholesterol. Some studies have shown that because of it’s high anitoxidant properties athletic endurance becomes enhanced significantly increasing the time it took people to become fatigued. Do your homework when buying spirulina. It’s an organism that grows in both fresh and salt water so be sure you are not buying it from a source that has grown it in heavy metal dense water or radio active water.

Hemp Seeds: Also known as hemp hearts. Also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids but also a great source of protein. 3 tablespoons provide 16 grams of protein! That’s huge! Let’s look at the following example: Women usually need 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day. Your protein consumption should be about 10 – 15% of total calories.  Let’s use 2,000 calories as an example, and we’ll also use 15%. 15% of 2,000 = 300 calories. There are 4 calories per gram of protein so 16 grams X 4 = 64 calories or 21% of your daily need! Quiet a bit from a small amount. Lastly, you are probably thinking that my numbers for protein requirements is quiet low. It is by what everyone else is telling you or you have been hearing. If you follow the recommendations that are communicated by the industries that are funded by the industries that sell protein – fitness industry, food industry, the dietitians industry, etc. of course they want you to spend your money on protein powders and supplements – processed protein.

If you follow a whole foods plant based diet you will be get all the protein you need. More on that in another post

Oats: When eating oats be sure to get the steel cut, lesser processed oats. Again, a whole foods plant based diet should minimize as much as possible processed foods. Why do I look at Oats as a superfood? High in complex carbs, fiber, maganese, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and more. A half cup of oats contain 51 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 8 grams of fiber. A very nutrient dense food. Oats also have  soluble fiber called Beta-Glucan. Beta-glucan partially dissolves in water and forms a thick, gel-like solution in the gut giving you that satiated feeling helping to prevent unnecessary snacking.

Finally

I’m sure I could have added more things, things such as Tumeric, Garlic, Ginger, etc. all good things. Sometimes I find when coming across lists like these you get overwhelmed in the things you need to eat and then you just give up. I hope my list is simple and something else about my list is it also promotes an easy way to get Omega-3 (DHA) into your diet daily without having to consume pills and without having to consume animal products.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Two Sides of the Coin

What will your day be like?

Heads

Sunday, my run was awesome. Probably the best run since I’ve gotten back to running. Sundays are my days for my long run trying to increase mileage and of course duration. I woke up early, trying to do that more frequently and made myself some steel cut oats with mixed fruits. This is also working out well as I’m finding eating this is helping in providing that energy needed for the first bit of the run.

My long run this Sunday was 2 hours in duration. Started the run feeling really good almost like it was effortless. 45 minutes in I consumed my first gel pack – still feeling good. 90 minutes in, keeping my pace and consuming water with electrolytes every 20 minutes and have my second gel pack. I tell myself 30 minutes more but I’m not doing it in a reassuring way, not saying it in a manner of ‘Come on, you can do this, only 30 minutes left!’ more just for information to gauge when I should take my next drink. I’m at an hour and 55 minutes and I feel great! I’m thinking do I keep running? Maybe I can hit 2.5 hours but I real back the enthusiasm and remind myself that I’m not even a month into this and I don’t want to injure myself. Doing what I planned to do is enough. I’m trying to be smarter with my training. These long runs are to get the body and the mind used to the constant repetition that comes with running, strengthening the tendons, the muscles, ligaments and so on. I know I made the right choice Monday when I could feel the tightness in my hip flexors. Next Sunday.

But I felt so strong and relaxed I know I could have continued.

Tails

Then there’s today. I didn’t sleep well, woke up 90 minutes before I usually do. Might have been the wind crashing into the window as the winter has turned nasty this last day. I got up feeling alright, cleared my drive way and headed off to work. A couple hours into work I started to feel tired, yawning a lot and feeling somewhat lifeless. Stress started to weigh on me too. I have a hard time  separating stress from what I need to accomplish. I find it can take away what motivates me and it gets flipped, reversed and I then have to fight with my mind to do what I have planned to do.

I went down to the gym telling myself that I have to do this. My fast runs, interval runs through the week are what helps me when I have my slow run on Sundays. I have to tell myself if I’m going to run that marathon I have to do this. But it’s tough. My enemy brain is working overtime to have me turn around and head back up to my desk. ‘Skip today’, ‘You’re tired’, ‘You’ll never do this anyway’, ‘What does it matter?’, ‘Just quit’.

Yeah, those and other things is what my enemy mind tells me. I’m sure you are probably the same, we all have that enemy mind in us. The mind that knows what to tell us to get us to quit doing the things that are good for us, flips the switch so we start doing the things that destroy us slowly or destroy us in a minute. I fought with that voice today and I’m not going to say I won. I’m not going to be that arrogant or cocky. I did do what I set out to do – I did my interval running and got cleaned up and went back to work. Done.

Heads/Tails

Am I stronger today for this? I really don’t know. I think all someone can do is handle each day as it comes. I know I’m not always going to come out of it the way I did today. I don’t think that is a realistic way to look at it.

I do know my enemy mind will always be there tempting me to fail again. Not every day. It’s kind of like that neighbor that for the most part is quiet but some days…

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

first

Don’t waste it

I was reminded by a few people over the holidays that I’m not big on new years resolutions. It’s true. And it wasn’t until I really thought about it that I realized I’m not a fan because typically new years resolutions don’t last. I read recently that only 8% to as high as 20% of resolutions end up being successful. Not really good numbers. But, what are the changes that people resolved to follow through with? How many of those were to quit smoking, drinking, cutting out junk food? If these are things you do on a regular basis, habits, than the difficulty in following through on them is much higher compared to things such as I’m going to walk for an hour once a week.

Major changes in life style can be hard to accomplish. I think it comes down to the want. How bad do you want it. Do you really want this change. That can help out a lot. I think that’s why people in general are more successful when they are guided along and goals are set for them. Let’s take stretching as an example. I promise to myself to stretch after every workout. Not may people do that. But lets say your workout takes place in an instructor led class. If you are forced to stretch because the instructor includes in it the program than you are almost guaranteed a 100% success rate. But not all of our goals can be addressed this way. So what do we do.

Force the issue

Can you sign up for an event that if you don’t follow through with your goal you will fail or be forced to drop out? If you have read my last couple of posts you see that I have registered for my first marathon. So I know when those days come where motivation is thin (those days will come) I have that reminder, that commitment to follow through on the event.

Letting friends know can have it’s benefits. I bolded the word friends because I want to emphasize that it should be true friends, people that you can count on for support when you have those moments where you feel like you are going to slip. A good friend can help you get past that hump and back onto track. Motivation can also be fear of failure or wanting to prove others wrong. So you can use those people who aren’t really friends too by telling yourself that they will not win, they will not see you fail. For some people this can be a huge motivator. I’m leaning on this a bit myself because I have a point to make that you can do incredible things living on a whole foods plant based diet. Part of my motivation is to prove those people wrong, be a voice for the silent, I already know there are doubters out there and I’m looking forward to crossing that finish line.

Another motivator can be to put yourself in positive role model role. Can your resolution be used to motivate others or be used to show the benefits of doing this? We need good, positive role models out there and you may not realize it but you probably have a large influence in the lives of people you know. Be it that you are around certain people every week or you have a tight bond because they are family can result in a much larger impact. You have more of an influence on these people than some instagram influencer. Hopefully.

You

Why is it you want to do this? Feeling fat, or maybe you are fat? Is there a time where you are at your worst because of this? Then do what you can to remember those things. Put on the clothes that don’t fit any longer. Take pictures of what you look in clothes and what you look like in underwear. Don’t like doing this? Don’t like the fact that you no longer look like what you want? Good! This is your motivation! Use this when you struggle to make the change and keep working on it.

Is there a video you can play that gets you pumped, gets you energized and reminds you of what’s possible? I have one. Watch this if you want some motivation when things get tough. It doesn’t even have to be relative to what you are doing. Two people who could have easily given up on life but decided not to and faced the challenges realizing growth comes from struggle.

It’s up to you. Your destiny, your success lies with you and only you. It’s true! Don’t let the evil part of your mind tell you different. And it will.

All of us have the ability to be what we want to be. You just have to cut out the bullshit and do it. The video above could have easily ended up different, it could have been a whole different story. Write your story the way you want to.

Yours in health,

Darryl

perspective is relative

The journey is about to begin

My last post talked about a goal I have set for this upcoming year, 2019. I’ve committed myself to this goal be it a good idea or a bad idea but I feel it’s time. It’s time I’ve challenged myself because without challenging yourself you don’t grow, you become stagnant, and that’s not good.

And I love a challenge. Years ago I went through basic training and spent 3 years in the military. During that time I volunteered and completed the ships diver course, an intensive physical course that has a drop out rate of 60%. I went back to school in my mid twenties to get  a degree in computer science, not an easy thing to do going back to school as a mature student. Took up running, running long distances but never in an official event. Started training in Karate and received my black belt in under 5 years. Went back to school sort of to become a certified personal trainer. Recently started my course on plant based nutrition from Cornell University. And now I’ve signed up for a marathon at the end of April, my first ‘official’ marathon.

Why?

I’ve been asking myself that question. It wasn’t a compulsive decision, sort of. Because of my roll at the dojo, teaching all ages and being in a somewhat of an influential position, be it that I bring this on myself or because it’s been bestowed onto me, I am a believer that if you talk the talk you need to walk the walk.

I don’t bring up my position on eating a whole foods plant based diet when I am teaching unless I’m asked for nutrition advice, or it somehow comes up otherwise for numerous reasons. But, I’ve been feeling that I’m not a good role model in this regard. I want to be that person that when someone comments that a whole foods plant based diet is incomplete, that you can’t perform at your best, that you ‘need meat’ I’ll prove them wrong. I’ll show them what can be done eating nothing but plants. But I need a point of reference.

But I’m not doing this for me. This isn’t to stroke my ego, not a fan of ribbons, this is to help people become more than they are, to become the best they can be. I can’t do that right now because for too long I’ve neglected the physical side of my training.

Now

I’ve completed all of my physical accomplishments before following a vegan lifestyle. At this point I have no reference for comparison. But that is about to change.15 weeks of training and than time to run 26 miles fueled exclusively from plants.

It’s going to be tough, it’s going to suck. I’m not going to lie and paint this as a walk in the park. I’m heavier than I should be,  too much heavier. Too much beer and potato chips have added the pounds to my frame. But I’ll do it. I have to.

I want to do something that can make a positive change in this world. I want to be leading the 5 mile run on May 4th for our next group of future black belts. I can’t influence everyone but if I can show a few people what eating only plants can do than maybe they’ll see through all the lies perpetuated by the media and society, that we can’t survive without killing animals and consuming them. I know this. More will find out. I’m going to draw a picture the size of a mountain.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Check back here frequently for updates on my progress. This just might become a mini story.

the bridge came up short

Abdominals

Understanding how muscle contraction works can greatly help you in working the muscles you are trying to work. As an example let’s look at the bicep muscle. The bicep muscles (there are 2, hence bicep) originate at the coracoid process (part of the scapula, the shoulder blade) and has an insertion point of the radius bone in your lower arm. To work the bicep muscles we grab an appropriate weight be it a barbell or dumbbell and starting with our arm straight we then bend our arm, bringing the weight up towards our shoulder. Most muscles are worked this way. The muscles will typically cross a joint (the elbow in this example) and we work that muscle by using the joint it crosses. The same with the tricep muscles originating from the humerus (upper arm) and having an insertion point of the ulna (lower arm) crossing the elbow joint. We work the tricep muscles inversely to how we work the bicep muscles. Makes sense.

So knowing this can help in how you work the muscles as the primary movers or secondary movers or stabilizers. Our abdominal muscles are a good example of this. Our abdominal muscles are comprised of the rectus abdominis and the transversus abdominis. The rectus abdominis is what we all understand as our abs, this muscle group is what we see when we have an 8 pack (tough to get, most only achieve a 6 pack). The transversus abdominis we don’t notice that much as sits just below and beind the rectus abdominis but also behind the external and internal obliques. It sometimes is referred to as the girdle muscle as it wraps around transversely. Connected to our illiac crest (pubic area) and the cartilage of the lower ribs it does look like a girdle. With this large muscle having fibers running transversely it is a key component of the core. No joints being crossed.

The rectus abdominis originates at the pubis and inserts on the 5-7th costal cartilages (ribs), and on the xiphoid process of the sternum. No joints being crossed.

So here we have 2 muscle groups that don’t cross any joints in our body. How do we contract the muscles if they don’t cross a joint? Think of that when doing exercises such as leg raises. If the motion of raising and lowering our legs does not cause the concentric or eccentric contraction of our core muscles because those muscles are not connected to our femur (upper leg) bone then how is this an exercise for the core?

This is where it’s up to you. These abdominal muscles will play a stabilizer role in this exercise helping you to keep you core stable as you keep your back on the floor. But, you have to actively think of this, you have to focus on these core muscles engaging and stabilizing your body, your core. What also helps with this is using the isometric contraction to contract the muscles.

planking
planking comes in many ways

Isometric contraction is contracting the muscle without lengthening (eccentric contraction) or shortening (concentric contraction). How can you do this with the abs? Think of tightening your abs as if someone was going to punch you in the gut. The muscles are contracting but not lengthening or shortening. You can also do this: Suck in your abs drawing in your lower abdomen below your naval, and hold it. This is referred to as hollowing or vacuuming. You can do this, and isometric contractions anytime; sitting, standing, working, etc. Do this and hold it for 10 – 15 seconds to start, and be sure to continue to breathe. Then increase the time to 30 seconds, or a minute. Be sure to incorporate this into workouts when planking, etc.

Let’s look at some exercises we can do to strengthen these muscles:

  • Russian twist: Starting seated with knees together and bent, raise your feet about 6 inches off of the floor and lean back slightly. Twist from side to side keeping your core tight in that vacuum state and as you twist bring both hands over try to touch the ground.
  • Plank: Staring laying down on your belly lift your body up onto your elbows and toes. Keep you hips up imagining a line from your shoulders to your ankle and your hips intercepting that line. Keep the belly sucked in actively engaging the transversus abdominis. To add difficulty lift a hand up straight out ahead and to add even more difficulty do the same with a leg lifting the opposite foot off of the ground  keeping the leg straight.
  • Crunches: If is very important to keep a neutral spine while doing crunches. This means not pulling on your head and curving the spine while crunching. Most people do this because it makes it easier and makes us feel like we are being successful. Doing more of something that can hurt us is not being successful. Keeping your spine in a neutral position put your hands by your ears and look straight up. Now, bending at the hips, contracting your abs, lift your shoulders up off the ground. Now, lower back down but don’t let your shoulders touch the ground! Keeping the load on the abs by not letting your shoulders touch the ground thus eliminating the rest is really hard but this is what will get you a strong  transversus abdominis and will help prevent back injuries and will also help in giving you that flat stomach most people are looking for. Technique is key as always

Working muscles that don’t cross a joint is harder as it requires much more concentration and focus since it’s not as easy as moving a limb. YOU HAVE TO ACTIVELY ENGAGE THE MUSCLES BY ISOMETRIC CONTRACTION OR BY HOLLOWING. Not doing these things will result in putting in lots of time but not getting the results you want and need.

This post is just the beginning of building a strong core. My plan is to break it down even further in upcoming posts. But this should get you started and covers enough to give you a strong back supporting core.

And remember, if a muscle does not bridge a joint, bending a joint does not work it directly.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Those who never retract their opinions

It may not be needed but with it, life is so much better. It’s never really talked about when people discuss what they eat. Our good friend fiber.

It isn’t needed. It’s not an essential nutrient like water, carbohydrates, or protein. We don’t need it to sustain life but with it everything just runs so much better. And you run better. Someone asks you where do you get your protein? Ask them, where do you get your fiber.

What

Dietary fiber is a plant based carbohydrate but unlike other carbs it cannot be broken down into sugar molecules. Therefore, fiber passes though us relatively intact. And as it passes through our body it does some great things.

  • Normalizes bowel movements: Basically fiber increases the size of the stool making it easier to pass and it also softens it.
  • Maintain bowel health: Studies have shown it lowers risk of colorectal cancer. Also, having good bowel health also means less time in the bathroom sitting possibly resulting in hemorrhoids.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels: Eating beans, oats and other foods high in soluble fiber may help lower cholesterol by lowering LDL, the bad cholesterol.
  • Helps you live longer: Some studies have shown the a high fiber diet may reduce risk of dying from heart disease or cancer. More on this below.

 

Some Details

Let’s look a little deeper into how having a diet high in cholesterol can help us live longer and disease free longer. We live during a time where we are exposed to a lot of chemicals. The stuff we put on and in our body: toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, anti-persperant, makeup. The air we breathe full of toxic chemicals. Maybe you’ve heard about the recent VW emissions scandal where they where convicted of using a cheating device on their emissions tests. It’s so bad even a VW executive is going to jail for it! The clean diesel they were selling…not so clean. The same with coal, clean coal is a lie from the coal lobby so coal will continue to be used as a source of energy. Then there’s the food we eat: fast food and prepared foods loaded with chemicals so they last longer and don’t spoil. Chemicals put in to replicate flavours instead of using the actual product that has the flavour they are trying to replicate. Why use the actual product, that would be too expensive and companies – share holders, wouldn’t make as much money.

We can do things to limit our exposure to chemicals. Change what we eat, use shampoos that don’t have chemicals as examples. I recently purchased vegan all natural deodorant. Made 100% from natural products – no toxic chemicals at all. Even the packaging the deodorant itself comes in is made toxic chemical free. And this shit works!

But ultimately we cannot eliminate exposure to all toxic chemicals in our lives. It’s pretty much impossible. The world just isn’t that big anymore. And if you live in a large urban area you are even at a greater exposure. But this is where fiber comes in. As mentioned earlier fiber is a carbohydrate but does not break down into a sugar molecule, it maintains it’s roughness so to speak. And as fiber passes through our intestinal track it picks up the toxic waste our body’s liver processed and wants to get rid of. The toxic waste adheres to the fiber and is eventually excreted from our body. But, if there isn’t any fiber there for the toxic waste to cling too, the toxic chemicals are absorbed back into our body.

But what else does fiber remove from our body? Hormones. Hormones that come from the foods we eat. What’s that? You eat meat that has not been fed hormones so you are ok, right? Not really. Consumption of beef, chicken, pork has shown to increase the amount of estrogen in individuals. Trying to start a family and not having any luck? Hmm…maybe read this. And if you consume dairy you are also including estrogen into your diet. Think about it, diary is made by mom cows who just had a baby (yep, cows make milk for their newborn baby, not there 16 year old baby, and not for us) and most times are impregnated shortly again and that milk is made up of stuff to get that baby cow up to 500 lbs as quickly as possible, usually within a year. It’s funny how people will argue eating meat is natural, we’ve always done it but ignore ‘natural’ or nature when it comes to the fact that we are the only species that continue to consume dairy after being weaned well into our old age and fuck, we drink milk from another animal!!! Offer that person a glass of human milk and they would call it gross, disgusting. But continue to drink cows milk, and eat meat because natural tho.

That’s right, animal products – meat, milk, etc. have no fiber at all. None. Zilch. Nada. On the flip side a whole foods plant based diet will give you more than enough fiber, every day! Fuck yeah!

Do I need to say more? Do I really need to make a list of foods high in fiber? No. I don’t. It should be clear up to this point. Animal products: Fiber score=0%. Whole foods plant based diet: Fiber score = > 100%.

Don’t be one of those people who don’t learn from other’s mistakes. Don’t be that person who lost a love one to cancer and doesn’t want to go through that shit but continues to do the things that don’t help prevent cancer but in fact sets up the ideal environment for cancer promotion.

You wanna use the hashtag #fuckcancer than actually do it, fuckcancer. Reduce or eliminate the foods that harm us and increase the whole plant foods increasing your fiber.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing

Beware of this trap.

Water, the life substance. We cannot live long without water. We need it to survive and we need it throughout our day to maintain proper body functions but in excess it can be harmful. In fact it can actually kill you. Have you ever heard of someone dying while competing in an endurance race? I’ve heard of it happening close to where I live. The person (I’m assuming not well trained to complete in such a race) consumed too much water thus diluting the sodium in their body causing hyponatremia. Basically water moves from your blood to your cells, causing the cells to expand, and causing swelling of the brain.

Too much exercising and not enough recovery time can be detrimental to our health too. I guess the title of my post is a bit click baity but it’s to emphasize a point I’ll be making soon.

The Case

I’m going to take a look at a supplement, specifically magnesium, and what being deficient in magnesium can mean to us and also what having too much magnesium can also do.

What

Magnesium like a lot of minerals plays an important role in our well being. It is involved in over 600 enzymatic reactions including energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It is also involved in muscle and nerve functions, energy production, and also plays a role in the transport of potassium and calcium ions. Basically it is an essential ion to the human body.

Not Enough

So what could you experience if you are not getting enough magnesium? Here’s a list of common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Elevated PMS symptoms
  • Insomnia and trouble sleeping
  • Muscle weakness and cramps

Too Much

Now lets look at the opposite, what happens if you get too much magnesium from supplementing:

  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you noticed above I specifically stated from supplementing. This is because the body will naturally get rid of excess magnesium via the kidneys when consumed in the foods we eat.

Then what

Muscle weakness and cramping, these two things existing in both cases. How would you know the difference between too much or not enough? So what do we do? You are now thinking if you don’t supplement or if you do supplement you’ll still be in a bad place. You can’t win, right? But you can.

First, what I think is the most important thing you can do for your health is to adopt a whole foods plant based diet. Notice I’m not using the word vegan. There’s a reason for this. Following a vegan life style is just that, it’s a life style that goes beyond what you eat such as what you wear and buy. You can eat nothing but Oreo’s and still be vegan. Not a good choice though is it. A whole foods plant based diet is what is sounds like it is. Whole foods that are plants, not processed foods. Minimizing oils, salts, sugars. Sounds boring, right? But it’s not. Check out this book to see that there are a lot of exciting options when it comes to cooking with plants.

Without getting into it too deeply try to consume a variety of plants: onions, dark green leafy vegetables, potatoes, bright coloured peppers, whole grain unprocessed rice, seeds, nuts, avocados, tofu and so on. Prepare these foods not adding anything or if you like to add salt and oil but at a minimum. If you eat this way it is virtually impossible to eat too much and add unwanted fat to your body. Because these foods are whole foods, not processed, they are nutrient dense but caloric light unlike processed foods which are the inverse. Here’s what I mean; fat has 9 calories per gram where as protein and carbs have 4 calories. And because whole plant based foods are high in fiber you will feel full and satisfied without having to consume all those calories.

But what does this have to do with magnesium? By eating these foods you should be getting all the magnesium you need, naturally.

But

But if you aren’t sure and you think you might be deficient in magnesium visit your doctor for blood work and ask that magnesium be added to the tests. If the results come back that you are low in magnesium then talk to your doctor about options to address it.

Finally

I hope this helps make things clear. Supplementing should be our last option, our first option changing what we eat. Think of it as putting cheap fuel into your car and because of this your having to buy a higher grade of oil to combat engine wear. Why not just put better fuel into the car? The same goes for your body. And not having to supplement means not having to spend money on expensive pills.

Yours in health,

Darryl